Hooray for the return of the Monthly Book Club post! Today’s book is one that I use quite often to give me ideas for new games and activities to do with groups of kids and teens. It’s called “Instant Success: For Classroom Teachers, New and Substitute Teachers” by Barbara Cawthorne. I was given the book when I worked as a substitute teacher during graduate school. I found the book really helpful while working in the classroom, but I have also found the book incredibly helpful in child life as well.
This book has a wealth of activities and games for kids that range from quiet activities to games that get your body moving. There are games and activities for all age groups from Kindergarten to 8th grade and there is a key that tells you which games are good for which ages. I also like the variety of activities in the book. It even has a section on ideas for creative writing and how to do a bunch of finger plays.
Because it is written for teachers there is a section in there of activity worksheets that you can make copies of. You may think that as Child Life Specialists we don’t need classroom worksheets to give to our patients. I would like to challenge that assumption and note that on quite a few occasions parents and even kids have asked me for worksheets so they can work on math and reading, because they don’t want to fall behind in school. I think this is great, and it also goes along with the importance of keeping a child on a predictable schedule, even when he is sick in the hospital. When you involve a hospitalized child in activities that are similar to regular school it reminds her that there is more to her life then the hospital and gives her hope.
I also have found that many of the activities are easily adaptable to the hospital. For example, there is a game called “King and Queen” which is a version of tag, but doesn’t require running around. This is great for kids who aren’t able to move around as fast, or shouldn’t be moving too fast because of surgery or an IV pole. Another great game is called “Quiet Ball” where children play catch while sitting at their desks. In the classroom it’s great because there isn’t call for a great ruckus. In the hospital it’s great because children in wheel chairs can easily join in the fun.
One last note. You might notice that this book was written in the 1980s. Don’t let that fool you! It has so many great ideas and suggestions! In a way, being older makes it better, because sometimes it’s really nice to just get back to the basics. And who doesn’t like an good old-fashioned finger play, right? Check it out and let me know what you think!
Title: Instant Success: For Classroom Teachers, New and Substitute Teachers
Author: Barbara Cawthorne
Subjects: Activities, Games, Rapport Building, Ice Breakers
Ages: Adults leading children ages 5-14